Are you passionate about basketball but find it impossible to make it to the NBA? Or are you interested in learning how to play basketball overseas?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, then we have some good news for you! You don’t have to play for the NBA. You can invest in your professional basketball career outside the US.
If you’re a bit older and haven’t yet begun building your basketball career, there’s still hope. Eight-time NBA all-star Dikembe Mutombo didn’t play basketball until he was 22 years old. You just have to stick to a game plan such as the following ones listed below and give it your best.
1. Train as often, and as smart as you can
Basketball is a sport that has both physical and mental components. Getting into good shape requires both strengthening the body and mind. Improving basic skills like dribbling and shooting. Sprint as fast as you can, and make sure you keep track of your improvement. Not knowing where to get better won’t get you better. Develop signature moves and tactics to up your game. Who knows if you could be the next Allen Iverson or Dirk Nowitzki with your own “crossover” or “fade away”. Get your buddies to practice with you. Basketball is a team sport and coaches and recruiters will want the best team players.
2. Join tournaments at school or at local parks
Once you’re confident with your skills, it’s time to leave the training grounds and play actual games. Your school is a good starting point. Sometimes managers scout the best players in high-school and college to recruit them. They’re even offered scholarships. Joining school teams will improve your game and help you sign to a professional team. Meeting seasoned coaches will also increase your chances of joining major basketball leagues. If this is not possible, sign up for your local leagues and play hard, even if there’s no monetary enjoy doing so. If you play well enough, coaches might notice your grit and take you to bigger leagues. Another important benefit would be learning from the more skilled players.
3. Join basketball training camps and academies
This is one good way to get noticed as an aspiring pro player. Participating in sports camps gives you good exposure to the field. It’s also an opportunity to learn from coaches and mentors that can help you improve. You can start in smaller camps to familiarize yourself with their routine. And as you get better, aim for bigger camps. Some of the biggest basketball summer camps in America are overseen by coaches from the NBA. Each training camp has a different program, and most of them will prepare you for the pros. Below are some camps you can check out, along with their distinguished alumni:
– Keystone State Camps: Derrick Rose, Deron Williams – IMPACT Basketball Training Camps: Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard – Five-Star Basketball Camps: Kyrie Irving, Michael Jordan – PCG Basketball Camps: Shabazz Muhammad, Chasson Randle – Pangos All-American Camp: Russel Westbrook, DeAndre Jordan – USA Regional Basketball Camp (organized by USA Basketball)
Better yet, you can join direct try-outs organized on occasion. Look out for announcements by the USBA to find out if teams overseas are looking for new players.
4. Build connections and get your game noticed
If you keep on failing to catch attention at the events you join, do something beyond your usual efforts. At the camps, you join, be on good terms with all your coaches, camp managers, and fellow campers. Exchange contact info with them and keep in touch with other players. You never know who or what can be your icebreaker to the pro leagues. Create a highlight reel of your games. Show off your skills and passion for playing! You need to have something credible that you can show to an international coach or agent.
5. Get good basketball agents
You may be small fry now, but agents and managers can help increase your chances of being with bigger fish. They will send you to exposure camps and negotiate contract terms for you. Good agents will land you contracts overseas if you have a good enough rep to back up your skills.
6. Work, work, work hard
None of these is possible if you don’t show your best game, not only on the court but also off-court. If you have to find ways to go abroad yourself, then do it. Your worthiness and success will depend on your will to play the game and get better.
Playing basketball overseas may be intimidating due to the new environment and culture. But if you’re passionate enough about your game that alone may be enough to carry you through.
Basketball is a widely-played sport with almost 120 pro and semi-pro leagues. Both men and women compete in tournaments in over 40 countries around the world. The National Basketball Association (NBA) of the United States has the biggest audience. It offers high-level competition and premium compensation for the best players.
Yet, many other countries have begun to love the sport as much as America does. Today, countries that play basketball form strong global communities.
Overseas Basketball Leagues
If you plan on playing overseas, there are lots of professional leagues whose teams you can join. You’d get to meet with players of various nationalities and compete with them in tournaments. Some of them even offer competition as stiff as the NBA league itself! One example is the EuroLeague. The best European professional teams butt heads to get their place in the league’s Final Four.
Because the bases for qualifying include previous season rankings, it’s tough to get in here. The upside? Fans always see heavy action on the court because every match is a battle to keep your game alive.
Another league worth checking out is the Israeli Super League. They are home to one of the best international basketball teams in Israel, Maccabi Tel Aviv. Getting a roster spot as a foreign player in this league is a challenge. Only four international players play per team.
If you’re an NBA fan and an aspiring pro baller, plenty of familiar faces may welcome you in Russia’s VTB United League. It offers great pay to players with talent and skill, being Russia’s leading domestic league. Although it might be tough playing in Russia, player’s earn a decent amount of money. Ask Charles Jenkins, Stephane Lasme and more than 15 other American players in Russia.
League Rules Tournament format and rules may be different for international professional leagues. For example, instead of two conferences, some team have a round robin. There are not so many trophies given out to players as compared to other leagues. This means that Euroleague players have to be.
Basketball may have changed in the course of history, as it’s influenced by people playing it all over the globe. As far as rules go, each country has its own set of rules and regulations. The gameplay is generally the same across different countries. Culture plays a big part in how well the players adjust to their home. The same terminologies exist in pro games so there’s not much to fear about having to adjust in this respect.
Successful American Basketball Players Overseas
American players who made successful careers playing in basketball leagues overseas.
1. Anthony Gill of BC Khimki, Russia
Gill plays either the forward or center position for the BC Khimki. He averaged 14.4 points with 6.9 rebounds in the 2016-17 EuroLeague. Also ranked first in statistics in 4 games played with Khimki so far in the 17-18 season. He averages 11 points in 25 minutes each game.
2. James Augustine of Unicaja, Spain
The NBA’s Orlando Magic said farewell to this experienced power forward in 2008. His 59.3 field goal (FG) percentage has resulted in 10 years of playing European basketball. He is also among the best-paid basketball players in the European league. Earning roughly €1.2 million (roughly $1.4 million) a year!
3. Kyle Hines of CSKA Moscow, Russia
Hines is a flexible player that plays many positions. With his strong defensive play, he’s EuroLeague Best Defender in 2016 and 2018. This helped his teams win the EuroLeague championship twice. He won with Olympiacos and once with CSKA Moscow. He is also among the highest-paid EuroLeague players, earning €1.15 million (roughly $1.3 million) a year.
4. Quincy Davis III of Pure-Youth Construction Basketball Team, Taiwan
An American-born player, Davis became a citizen of Taiwan to play for a team in China. He is one of the 5 best players in the FIBA Asia Cup. He averaged 18 points and 10.6 rebounds, with a 61.2 FP in the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge. He’s know to have one of the highest vertical jumps in the world.
5. Stanley Pringle of Globalport Batang Pier, Philippines
In 2017, Pringle led Globalport Batang Pier in offense with 19.7 field goal attempts per game. He averaged a personal best 23.7 points and 8.2 rebounds in the 17-18 PBA Philippine Cup. His team referred to him as their best player.
Compensation from Playing Overseas: Is It Worth It?
Professional basketball players usually sign contracts that only last a season. Their previous performance is a factor when management is finalizing their deal. Not all contracts immediately hit the million-dollar mark. Many start at as low as $100,000. It’s double the least an NBA player could get but still miles away from that 7-figures you desire. Keep in mind that this could improve over years of playing. Especially if you become a better player.
Playing at a high level will attract fans and a few endorsements deal with big companies. NBA legends like Shaq and Michael Jordan have made millions of dollars with their brands. They sell basketball shoes, shirts, and other apparel.
European basketball players can also make more money by selling their own merchandise. This translates to an extra stream of income that’s not too bad for their pockets.
Whether your salary is worth it depends on a lot of different factors. If you play in a country with a high cost of living, you will earn less than if you lived in an affordable country to live in.
You should take this into account when deciding where to play.